Category : Law & Legal Issues

The Rector of Saint Philips, Charleston, writes his Parish about the proposed mediation process in the South Carolina Anglican-Episcopal Dispute

Dear Friends,

From November 6-8, representatives of the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church will be engaged in mediation under the direction of retired federal judge Joseph Anderson in Columbia. Both parties have agreed to mediate all issues currently pending before the State and Federal courts.

This is another step along the way toward resolution, but unlike arbitration, mediation is not binding on either party, and this is no guarantee of a positive outcome for the Diocese. It would be unwise to assume that this will necessarily resolve the litigation or guarantee that we will ultimately prevail. Instead, this is an opportunity for us to engage in fervent prayer. As Christians, we have the great privilege of laying our burdens, fears, and hopes before our Heavenly Father, and I encourage you to do so between now and the conclusion of the mediation on November 8.

Please remember Bishop Lawrence and our legal team as you pray, but also include Bishop Skip Adams and the legal representatives from TEC. It may be difficult to bless our adversaries and pray for those who appear to persecute us, but it is the Christian way. It is our hope that in ALL things Jesus Christ may be glorified, so pray especially that God’s will may be done on earth as it is in heaven, and that the ministry of St. Philip’s and the Diocese of South Carolina may continue unfettered and undeterred.

Faithfully Yours,

–The Rev, Jeff Miller is rector, Saint Philip’s, Charleston

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

(Local Paper) Laura Hipp Chimes in on the Lowcountry South Carolina Anglican/Episcopal mess

From there:

Being “given over to the courts”and being “thrown out of the synagogues” (our churches) are some of the “peculiar honors” St. Philip’s and St. Michael’s congregations and others are facing. Jesus said his disciples would face such trials before he returned.

Why did we break away from the Episcopal Church? We had already voted that we supported theologically our bishop’s stand for orthodox theology that has been held by the church for over 2,000 years, come what may with the prevailing winds of the culture.

When the House of Bishops voted overwhelmingly to redefine certain sacraments and to approve new liturgy accordingly, Bishop Mark Lawrence being present wrote his name down in a blank book of the House of Bishops as having a concern over the departure of the Episcopal Church from particular tenets of the faith. He was in communication with the presiding bishop, seeking to work with each other side by side.During what he thought was open communication with the presiding bishop, he was surprised to receive without forewarning a letter from the House of Bishops barring him from his duties as bishop. Because our diocese had already voted to support our bishop come what may, we were out of the Episcopal Church with his barring.

We only recently joined the Anglican Church in North America, comprised of similar congregations who have not buckled to doctrines once considered inconceivable by instructed man. The ghost of every dead and buried heresy does squeak and gibber as on our ghost tours of Charleston.

Certainly there are some “brethren” at Grace and the few other churches that remained with TEC who would not like to see us kicked out of our church properties over freedom of conscience and free exercise of religion, which are unalienable rights to all Americans. As the Charleston poet, Elizabeth Verner Hamilton said, “You’ve got to love your neighbor when you live this close together.”

What we are being found guilty of is remaining in the faith, remaining in the Bible Belt, even in the Holy City’s most historic churches, not breaking away from the “Faith of our Fathers, Holy Faith.”

“We will be true to you till death.”

Laura Wichmann Hipp…

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Carolina Compass) Diocese of South Carolina Canon Jim Lewis– Justice for all?

The Diocese of South Carolina filed two motions on September 1 with the State Supreme Court, requesting a rehearing of our case and the recusal of the justice casting the deciding vote. Both are unusual steps and legal counsel for The Episcopal Church (TEC) has now responded to our motions. Because the issues at stake in this case have implications far beyond our Anglican family, they merit public comment.
Ownership of church property

The Diocese of South Carolina and its 54 congregations provide a place of worship for 23,000 faithful members across the Lowcountry of our state. Most of those congregations will lose their place of worship to TEC if the current ruling of the court stands as is. Many of those affected are colonial parishes like St. Philip’s and St. Michael’s whose existence predates TEC by more than 100 years. How can an unincorporated, New York association claim ownership here?

The majority in this case has made multiple legal assertions, among the most problematic of which is that a church body can lay claim to another’s property simply by saying it is so. The General Convention of TEC asserted such a unilateral claim in 1979. The problem with affirming such a claim in South Carolina is that it requires ignoring 300 years of clear legal precedent for how to establish an ownership interest in property.
The well-established legal principal is that the party granting anyone an interest in their property must do so in a clear, unambiguous written form. TEC failed to establish a trust interest in our property, of any sort, that can be recognized under existing S.C. legal precedent. To grant TEC such an interest now is to grant it favored status over the diocese and its parishes, establishing one church body over another. This is inconsistent with opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court that truly “neutral” principles of state law must be applied here as they would in any other case.

If you belong to any religious body, this ruling should concern you. It establishes the precedent that your property interests are not subject to the same rules as everyone else and you can be treated differently. In this particular case, it means any group you are associated with can make a legal claim to your property, simply because they say they have decided they have one. As Justice Kittredge noted in his dissenting opinion on this ruling, “The message is clear for churches in South Carolina that are affiliated in any manner with a national organization and have never lifted a finger to transfer control or ownership of their property — if you think your property ownership is secure, think again.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Diocese of South Carolina Announces Schedule for Proposed Mediation

COLUMBIA, S.C. (October 4, 2017) – Today the Diocese of South Carolina (Diocese) announced the schedule for mediation of the ongoing litigation with The Episcopal Church (TEC).

Statement by the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis:

“In a pre-mediation meeting today with Judge Joseph Anderson, it was determined that mediation would be conducted November 6-8 in Columbia, South Carolina.  Both State and Federal cases will be addressed by the mediation.  Confidentiality will be expected from all parties concerning these discussions.”

Read it all and please note all the linked material.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Church of England Statement on the Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse Hearing

Found there:

“We welcome todays detailed update on the investigation into the Anglican Church in England and Wales focusing on the Chichester case study to be heard in March 2018. The Inquiry acknowledged and welcomed the contributions from all core participants in responding to its detailed request for information.  It is clear that there will be a real focus on learning to make the Church a safer place for all and we will continue to work cooperatively with IICSA. First and foremost our commitment must be to listen to survivors who take the courage to come forward and who will play a vital part in the Inquiry.”

Bishop Peter Hancock, Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Violence

(BBC) Archbishop Justin Welby criticises BBC response to Jimmy Savile’s crimes

The Most Rev Justin Welby said the BBC had not shown the same integrity over accusations of child abuse that the Catholic and Anglican churches had.
Abuse survivors disputed that, saying their experience was of “long years of silence, denial and evasion”.
The BBC said it did not recognise the accusation against the corporation, and had acted transparently over Savile.
The archbishop was invited to contribute to a series on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, looking back at Britain over the past 60 years, to mark the programme’s anniversary.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

([London] Times) Melanie Phillips–Our Thinking is warped on Cannabis Legalisation

At the Labour Party conference yesterday the comedian Russell Brand called for drugs to be decriminalised. At next week’s Conservative conference, the free-market Adam Smith Institute will be pushing for the legalisation of cannabis. Legalisation means more users. That means more harm, not just to individuals but to society. The institute, however, describes cannabis as “a low-harm consumer product that most users enjoy without major problems”. What? A huge amount of evidence shows that far from cannabis being less harmful than other illicit drugs, as befits its Class B classification, its effects are far more devastating. Long-term potheads display on average an eight-point decline in IQ over time, an elevated risk of psychosis and permanent brain damage.

Cannabis is associated with a host of biological ill-effects including cirrhosis of the liver, strokes and heart attacks. People who use it are more likely than non-users to access other illegal drugs. And so on.

Ah, say the autonomy-loving free-marketeers, but it doesn’t harm anyone other than the user. Well, that’s not true either. It can destroy relationships with family, friends and employers. Users often display more antisocial behaviour, such as stealing money or lying to get a job, as well as a greater association with aggression, paranoia and violent death. According to Stuart Reece, an Australian professor of medicine, cannabis use in pregnancy has also been linked to an epidemic of gastroschisis, in which babies are born with intestines outside their abdomen, in at least 15 nations including the UK.

The legalisers’ argument is that keeping cannabis illegal does not control the harm it does. Yet wherever its supply has been liberalised, its use and therefore the harm it does have both gone up.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

The Diocese of South Carolina offers its Rebuttal of TEC Recusal and Rehearing Arguments

COLUMBIA, S.C. (September 25, 2017) – Today the Diocese of South Carolina (Diocese) filed our Replies, to the Return by The Episcopal Church (TEC) to our motions for recusal and rehearing in the South Carolina Supreme Court, regarding its recent ruling in Appellate Case No. 2015-000622.

Statement by the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis: 

“Today’s filings by the Diocese of South Carolina address the property law issues at the heart of this case. TEC failed to establish a trust interest in property, of any sort, that can be recognized under 300 years of existing South Carolina legal precedent.  And to claim such an interest now is to grant TEC favored status against the Diocese and its parishes, establishing one church body over another. This is inconsistent with opinions of the United States Supreme Court that truly “neutral” principles of state law must be applied as they would be in any other case.

Further, the timeliness of our request for recusal is not an issue before an appellate court.    The public confidence in and the credibility of the Court is!  The most effective way to assure both is the recusal of Justice Hearn and the vacating of her opinion.  A ruling free from conflict of interest is not a right that can be waived.”

Read it all as well as the cited documents and those listed below the article.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(NC Register) Msgr. Charles Pope–Catholics Beware: The Attack on Free Speech is Growing Stronger

Hate is a strong word. It means “to regard with extreme ill-will, have a passionate aversion to, treat as an enemy” (source: Online Etymology Dictionary, etmyonline.com). True hatred is ugly. One should exercise care in attributing hatred to others because it identifies a dangerous level of passion in them and can poison reputations. Doing so can even amount to libel or slander.

Sadly, the words “hate” and “hatred” are bandied about today in a very careless manner. Mere disagreements or differing views about issues (not even about persons) are called “hate speech” and people who espouse them are called “haters.” Using such a term to describe a person speaks to his or her psychological state. As such, it is a form of ad hominem argumentum, an argument that seeks to discredit the person rather than address the issue. In effect, the charge is an attempt to shame or discredit rather than to debate the issues at hand openly and honestly.

One of the greatest and most prized things about our country has been our dedication to free speech and open, honest discussion and debate about issues and policies. Unfortunately, that has been eroding over the past few decades.

The erosion began with the concept of “political correctness.” Irritating though that often was, there was still the notion that being “incorrect” was not a crime. Political correctness is now devolving into something more pernicious; many views seem to be politically required under pain of social and economic exclusion—sometimes even legal sanction. If you espouse a view that is not the politically required one, the increasing effect is not merely to be scorned, but to be dragged into court, sued, decertified, and/or banned from social media/websites. The legal, economic, and social consequences can be steep and swift. It is today’s version of the “McCarthyism” of the 1950s.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Economist) Reno, Nevada–Anti-vagrancy laws are not the best way to reduce homelessness

As the city’s fortunes have risen, so too have its rents, occupancy rates and house prices. Since 2012 the median price of a home has doubled; the average rental price jumped 17% between 2014 and 2016. In January the Reno Area Alliance for the Homeless counted nearly 4,000 people living in weekly motels, up from 2,560 in 2011. Those who cannot afford motels have moved into shelters or onto the street.

If the proposed ordinance to ban sleeping outside passes, Reno’s police officers will be directed to try persuading those living on the streets to move to shelters. If they have no space, the homeless living on the street will be left alone. But if they do, anyone living outside who refuses to move in after a warning might be arrested.

An arrest record makes it harder for a homeless person to find employment or housing in the future. Many studies suggest there are cheaper ways to tackle the problem. The Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, a charity, found that the average costs associated with the incarceration and hospitalisation of a chronically homeless person are about triple what it would cost to provide a chronically homeless person with housing. Between 2007 and 2015, New Orleans reduced its homelessness rate by 85%, primarily by providing housing. Reno’s city government should take a look.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Poverty, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT Op-ed) Steve Silberman–The Police Need to Understand Autism

Diane Craglow was caring for a 14-year-old autistic boy named Connor Leibel in Buckeye, Ariz., one day in July. They took a walk to one of his favorite places, a park in an upscale community called Verrado. She was not hesitant to leave Connor alone for a few minutes while she booked a piano lesson for his sister nearby, because he usually feels safe and comfortable in places that are familiar to him, and he learns to be more independent that way.

When Ms. Craglow returned, she couldn’t believe what she saw: a police officer looming over the now-handcuffed boy, pinning him to the ground against a tree. Connor was screaming, and the police officer, David Grossman, seemed extremely agitated.

As Ms. Craglow tried to piece together what had happened, more officers arrived, spilling out of eight patrol cars in response to Officer Grossman’s frantic call for backup. Soon it became clear to Ms. Craglow that the policeman was unaware that Connor has autism, and had interpreted the boy’s rigid, unfamiliar movements — which included raising a piece of yarn to his nose to sniff it repeatedly — as a sign of drug intoxication.

As a graduate of Arizona’s Drug Evaluation and Classification program, Officer Grossman is certified as a “drug recognition expert.” But no one had trained him to recognize one of the classic signs of autism: the repetitive movements that autistic people rely on to manage their anxiety in stressful situations, known as self-stimulation or “stimming.” That’s what Connor was doing with the string when Officer Grossman noticed him while he was on patrol.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Psychology, Teens / Youth

(DC) South Carolina Diocese Fights Back Against Episcopal Church

What appeared to be a dispute over property quickly implicated First Amendment rights and the Establishment Clause, when the South Carolina Supreme Court applied different standards and rules to the Episcopal Church for establishing a trust in property than those governing secular organizations.

The court, in applying different and more lenient standards to the Episcopal Church, appeared to favor one denomination over another, according to Alan Runyan, an attorney representing the diocese.

“According to this decision, the Supreme Court of South Carolina has created a special rule which operates here to the benefit of the Episcopal Church, a New York unincorporated association, and to the punishment of the parish churches in the diocese of South Carolina, many of whom predate the Episcopal Church and the United States of America,” Runyan told TheDCNF. “Because, in the exercise of their protected rights to their religious beliefs and to associate with those they choose to associate with, they successfully withdrew from the Episcopal Church, only to have applied to them a rule that would not apply to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”

“And I say that because in South Carolina there are very precise ways for how you create a trust in property,” Runyan said. “In this case, the [South Carolina] Supreme Court majority expressly stated that, in fact, the Episcopal Church did not have to follow those rules. It didn’t have to follow the same rules that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would have to follow to create a trust interest in the property of a local chamber of commerce that had joined it. And it is in that respect that this is an egregious violation of the right to freedom of religion and the right to associate with others who share your religious beliefs because, in the exercise of those same rights, a secular organization would not have been punished.”

Lewis told TheDCNF that the implications of the court’s ruling, especially as they pertain to the Establishment Clause, posed a grave threat to the religious community at large.

“Part of our argument is that’s a gross violation of the First Amendment, that the court here has established a different set of rules, a different precedent for how church property ownership is determined than what would be used for a secular nonprofit,” Lewis said. “That’s essentially establishment of religion. There are all kinds of problems with that that should be of concern certainly to anybody in the religious community.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Dr John Kerrison weighs in on the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision

From here:

Imagine you are in court getting divorced. You may be angry, relieved, or bereft of hope. Nevertheless, you expect fair treatment.

It happens that you are married to a judge.

Wait — the judge hearing your case is your spouse?

Now the judge has ruled in her own favor on their own, personal case. Is this justice? Who cares?

Think about that for a minute. This happened when S.C. State Supreme Court Justice Kaye Hearn ruled in a case despite her membership in the activist Episcopal Forum, and even though it directly involved her own church and disregarded established precedent of the S.C. Supreme Court.

When my wife and I formally complained in writing to the committee on Judicial Conduct on Sept. 28, 2015 about the conflict of interest in accordance with Canons 2 and 3 of the South Carolina Code of Judicial Ethics, we were told this was not a problem.

Now that she has ruled, it is a problem on display for all.

When you love God, you love justice. Blessed are those who are persecuted for his sake.

John B. Kerrison, M.D….

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

The Historic Diocese of South Carolina responds to the New TEC Diocese’s Motion on the Rehearing

Today The Episcopal Church (TEC) filed their reply, as requested by the Court, to the motions by the Diocese of South Carolina and 28 parish churches for recusal and rehearing in the South Carolina Supreme Court, regarding its recent ruling in Appellate Case No. 2015-000622.

On behalf of the Diocese of South Carolina, Rev. Canon Jim Lewis issued the following statement:

“Today’s filing by The Episcopal Church argues in essence, that the Diocese and its parishes waived their right to recusal, by not requesting it earlier, and that the Constitutional issues raised in their motions are negligible or mistaken.  The facts in this ruling, as it presently stands however, will not yield to such arguments.  Justice Hearn’s bias and conflict of interest is clear to any impartial observer.  The Constitutional issues for Freedom of Religion remain.  As our petition for rehearing stated: “These are serious issues for Respondents, Appellants and for all religious organizations in South Carolina. This Court should grant a rehearing.”  That continues to be our hope and Constitutional expectation from the Court.”


The Diocese is also providing the following background information and details:

•    In 2012, the Diocese of South Carolina, along with 50 of its congregations voted by an 80% margin to disassociate from The Episcopal Church.  In a complicated and sharply divided ruling consisting of five separate opinions, the S.C. Supreme Court appeared to rule on August 2 this year that parishes which had “acceded” to the national church are subject to a trust interest in their property by (TEC).

•    The Constitutional due process requirements of the 14th Amendment are clear.  No member of government should make decisions in matters in which they have a vested interest in the outcome.  The Justice in this ruling who provided the deciding vote is a member of a TEC parish, Diocese and its national church.  Under South Carolina law, that Justice is a legal party to this litigation.  The bodies to which this Justice belongs as a member would be the beneficiaries of a nearly $500 million property windfall if this ruling stands.  That is a massive conflict of interest.  And it is the responsibility of the judge, under the South Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct, to reveal that issue, not for a party in the case to challenge the propriety of their actions.

•    The expert affidavit testimonies of Nathan M. Crystal, Professor and Adjunct Professor of Ethics at the University of South Carolina and NYU Schools of Law and Lawrence J. Fox, Professor of Ethics at Yale University are unanimous in their conclusions.  The due process rights of the Diocese of South Carolina have been violated by these actions and the only appropriate response is for this Justice to be recused from further participation in this case and their opinion vacated.  As Lawrence Fox observes in his analysis, “This is not a close case.”  The violations of due process here are not subtle.  They are profound….

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

New Episcopal Church in South Carolina Diocese Files its Motion with the South Carolina Supreme Court on the Rehearing Request

You may find the 32 page pdf document here and the press release about it there.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina